AN-This is the reposted, redone, and hopefully remastered version of A Sky Full of Stars. This is still a response to the challenge from njchrispatrick.
Warnings: Slash, M-Preg, and others will be added as they apply.
Disclaimer-I own nothing. No copyright infringement is intended nor implied, and no profit of any kind is being made on this work.
Loki couldn't hold back a smirk as he looked at the two intertwined figures in the bed. One was Thor, long blonde hair strewn across the pillow. His mouth was open and he was snoring slightly. Muscled arms were wrapped around the other figure, hugging him close to his strapping, hair-covered chest. The other figure was another man, large though not as large as Thor, with slightly darker blonde hair and a clean-shaven face. He seemed more clean-cut than the rugged Thor, his body smooth and his hair short.
He was not what Loki expected, in one of Thor's companions.
The Trickster god walked to the side of the bed, sitting down on it but being careful not to wake the men. One eyebrow rose as Thor murmured something in his sleep and hugged the other man closer to himself, bearded chin resting on top of his head. Loki shook his head and smiled slightly at his brother. While Thor may have often been the brutish, tactless oaf, when he cared for someone he was very loving to them. And Thor obviously loved this man, especially considering that he had broken his own father's commands to see him.
One pale hand moved to rest against the chiseled abs of Thor's bed-mate. The man stirred very slightly so Loki quickly dropped a sleeping spell over him, letting the man settle down. Then Loki used the hand on the man's stomach to reach his magic inward, to feel within. He could feel Thor's essence within the man, the Thunder God's fertile seed still coating the man's insides.
Well, didn't that just give him a wealth of possibilities?
Loki looked over the man's massive shoulders to watch his brother's face. In sleep his brother looked so peaceful, so innocent. While many in Asgard believed that Loki was jealous of and disliked his brother, especially the Warrior's Three, it was not so. Yes he hated Thor's arrogance, and was jealous of their father's favoritism, but Thor was his brother, his oldest companion. He could not hate Thor.
Loki closed his eyes, feeling the magic pour from him into Thor's companion. It felt cold, but not the harsh cold of winter; it was the chill of an autumn breeze, refreshing and light. It filled the man before him, shaping him, changing him within. Loki's own natural shape shifting abilities were what allowed the impossible to become real.
The man moved slightly in his sleep, thick eyebrows furrowing at the strange sensation that he no doubt felt even through the spell. But Loki ignored it as his work bore fruit. The man's body began to change as Thor's seed latched onto him, his internal passages shifting to accommodate its new attachment.
Loki's magic withdrew when its task was complete and he breathed heavily, his magic nearly exhausted from the strain. But he was successful, and for that he smiled. One day Loki would tell his brother of what he had done, perhaps get to receive gratitude and praise for once instead of scorn and ridicule. However, for now he would let the men rest. After all, it was not every day that two men, a mortal and an immortal, could become parents.
Steve retched into the gutter, his stomach rolling as he threw up everything he had eaten, ever. The Howling Commandos ringed the ally they were in, eyeing him with concern but keeping a watchful gaze for any enemies that they had missed during the sweep. Bucky rest a hand on the base of his neck and squeezed, instincts from years of looking out for Steve rearing their head despite the Serum.
Three weeks. He had been sick, daily, for three weeks. He couldn't eat, he couldn't sleep, there was always a low feeling of nausea in his stomach and he was tired of it.
"Steve, you need to talk to Phillips. Or at least that punk Stark. This is not natural." Bucky said, squeezing tighter as Steve groaned and dry heaved again. "Something could have gone wrong with the damn Serum."
Steve shook his head violently, even as the rest of the Commandos gave murmurs of agreement.
"No, I'm fine Bucky. It's probably just somethin' I ate." Steve straightened himself as he spoke, knowing deep in his gut that something else was very, very wrong. But it wasn't the Serum. He still moved just as quickly, reacted as well as he should (maybe even better), and hit just as hard as he had since the beginning.
Whatever was wrong, it was wrong in spite of the Serum, not because of it.
"Move out. Jim, Monty, sweep to the edges of town, I don't want them sneaking up on us. The rest of you, stay sharp." Steve coughed harshly, the taste of bile still strong on his tongue, but he shouldered his gun again and began moving with his men.
Whatever was wrong, he didn't have time to worry about it now. He had a war to help win, he could deal with a little vomiting.
Steve rounded the corner into the deserted village proper, shield strapped to his back and ready for anything.
He missed the eyes staring at him from the shadows that watched him until he was out of sight.
Steve continued pummeling the bag in front of him, his breathing becoming harsher as he fought back the past.
Seventy years gone in the blink of an eye.
Everyone he knew, gone. Steve knew, he had checked for them all.
Peggy was in a nursing home in England, and barely remembered her own name let alone his. That had been like a knife to his gut, watching the strongest woman he had ever known wander lost in her own mind.
Howard was dead, had been for over twenty years, and his son seemed nothing like his father from everything that Steve had found on him. It was as shame, Howard had been a great man. A great friend.
The rest of the Commandos were gone, leaving behind families and friends that remembered him, but that he didn't know. There was nothing there for him.
There was no one here for him.
He left everything behind.
They should have left him in the ice.
"Captain, may I have a word with you?" Fury spoke from behind him, but Steve never slowed his punches, the sound of his hands slamming into fabric soothing. "Captain?"
Steve shrugged, refusing to turn.
Petty, but if Fury wanted to talk, he could talk to his back.
'Couldn't sleep?" Steve snorted at the question.
"I was asleep for seventy years, I think I've had my fill." Another bag joined the mountain of them on the floor and Steve gave up, stepping back from the remains of it and unwinding the tape from around his hands. It was unnecessary now, the Serum healing whatever damage he gave himself before it was an issue, but old habits died hard. Some harder than others.
"You should be out, seeing the world. Celebrating." Fury said the word and Steve's heart clenched.
Celebrating? What was he supposed to be celebrating?
"When I went under, we were at war. When I woke up they said we won." Steve said, inhaling until he couldn't hold it anymore, trying not to imagine replacing the bag with Fury's head. "They didn't say what we lost."
Didn't say what he'd lost.
The file that he'd almost bullied Agent Coulson into digging up for him, lay sitting on his coffee table in his tiny Brooklyn apartment, and had been for the last two weeks. He hadn't gathered the nerve to open it yet, but from the size of it he knew exactly what would be written there.
Steve didn't think that he could take that knowledge. Thinking it was one thing, seeing it written in black and white was different.
"We've all lost something, Rogers, some more recently than others." Steve looked up and bit back the groan.
Of course, that's why he was here. The small talk was just to try and butter him up.
"Here with a mission, Sir?"
"I am." Fury didn't deny it, at least that was something.
"Trying to get me back into the world?" Steve asked sarcastically, knowing he would go AWOL if Fury tried to send him to one more SHIELD mixer. Agents were good backup on missions, but he wanted to spend as little time around them on his off hours as possible. There was only so much shop talk that he could take.
"No. To save it." Steve took the file that Fury handed him and flipped through it without really listening. The cube, Hydra's secret weapon, the one thing that Steve was glad got buried by time, stared back at him.
Hearing Howard, probably the only person other than Steve that had known what it was capable of, had pulled it from the deaths and handed it over to SHIELD filled him with rage.
They should have left it were they found it, and he said as much. Didn't people ever learn?
"Who took it from you?" someone stronger always got the one thing you didn't want them too, it was a law of nature. Unchangeable.
"Calls himself Loki. He's… not from around here." Steve tightened his grip on the folder in his hands until the paper wrinkled and began to tear.
It couldn't be. Loki, his Loki, had to be dead by now. Seventy years for a man already in his thirties was a long shot.
Steve barely listened as Fury talked, his mind elsewhere until the Director left.
Even if it wasn't His Loki, Steve couldn't keep the hope from blooming in his chest.
Two days later, Steve thought that he was going to hyperventilate. He steadied himself as much as he could, gripping the edge of the Quintet walls until he felt he was steady on his feet.
Loki. The Loki. His Loki. The Loki that took Him, who promised to keep Him safe.
The Loki who lied.
Steve glared the bastard currently sitting on the bench like a King, barely registering the questions Tony Stark was throwing at him. He wouldn't have been able to give you any of the answers he gave if his life depended on it.
Loki was there, in front of him, and all Steve could think of was Dustin.
Dustin as he last saw him. Ten tiny little fingers, ten perfect little toes. The most important person he ever failed.
And it was all because he trusted the wrong person.
It was not a mistake that he would repeat.
Clenching his fist, Steve stepped forward ready to find out what happened no matter who was listening, when lightening sparked and thunder rolled over head, the storm brewing out of nowhere. Loki flinched back, and Steve couldn't help but poke at the sore spot.
"What? You afraid of a little lightening?" He didn't care if he was being cruel. Steve wanted to be a lot crueler, but unfortunately there were others present that may disagree with his chosen course of action.
"No, I'm not overly fond of what comes after."
The back of the Quinjet was ripped open, Agent Romanoff straightening their flight up as quickly as she was able, but she was the only one who reacted quickly. A red caped figure was in, grabbing hold of Loki and dragging the Asgardian out before Steve was able to stop him.
He couldn't let that happen, not until he had his answers.
And the Tesseract. That was important too, but not Steve's first priority.
"Might want to sit this one out, Cap!" Natasha yelled from the front of the jet, frantically flipping switches to keep them flying straight. "They are way out of our league, they are practically Gods!"
Steve made a flippant comment as he grabbed one of the parachutes, slinging it on his back before heading for the back.
He didn't care if they were giant space birds, he was going to get his answers. And nothing was going to stop him. Nothing.
Wind rushed past him as he went into free fall, his shield held out in front of him cutting his wind resistance. He could see the glow of Stark's suit ahead of him, and followed it in. He wasn't going to get there first, but he would get there in time.
Stark was flying towards Red Cape, who looked hauntingly familiar to Steve, when he landed hard on the ground, the vibration of the landing shaking his bones before he adjusted.
"Enough!" Steve yelled as he threw his shield, coming close to hitting them both before it careened back into his hand. It got their attention, and Steve found his eyes darting around the clearing, not seeing the one person he was looking for. Loki wasn't there! Had he escaped already? Dammit! "Why are you here?"
"I am here to stop Loki's schemes, and return the Tesseract to Asgard."
That voice, Steve knew that voice. He looked up meeting His eyes for the first time in over seventy years.
But there was no recognition, his eyes didn't even twitch.
That was almost disappointing, actually.
"It looks like we all want the same thing. So," Steve held up his hands, wanting to diffuse the situation before it got worse. He could deal with everything else when no one was in danger of being killed. "why don't you put the hammer down.."
"Uh, bad idea cap'n, he really likes his hammer." Stark, Iron Man, was knocked aside and away, sliding across the stone covered ground until he slammed into a boulder and lay still by a casual strike of the hammer while Thor got into position. He was not ready to give up, and Steve didn't really like where things were going.
"You want me to put the Hammer down?" Steve saw where he was going and took a deep breath, readying himself as the god took a huge leap, bringing the hammer down in a savage arc as Steve moved the shield into place. He didn't know if it would be enough to stand up to this, but he wasn't going to give in without a fight.
The world exploded as the hammer impacted and Steve gritted his teeth as he fought to stay standing. Thor was tossed back by the shock wave, the hammer flying out of his hand and landing somewhere among the still standing trees.
Well, Howard did say it would stand up to anything, good to know he was right yet again. Steve stepped out from behind the shield, slinging it over his back and groaning as he caught his cowl with the motion, knocking it off his head. His hair was sweaty and plastered to his forehead, dirt clung to his uniform from landing on the ground, and he had spandex tucked in places no spandex should ever see.
But Thor was staring at him like he was the sun, awe and longing on his face.
"Thor. It's been a long time."
There was nothing else to say.
It was not possible, mortal lives were as short as the seasons. Thor would have told anyone who dared listen that his love was long dust, leaving nothing but bittersweet memories for Thor to remember.
And yet, he felt Steve's gaze on his back, the soldier looking exactly the same but tired and careworn. The past weighed heavy on those strong shoulders, and Thor wanted to sooth all the worries away.
But that, and answers, would have to wait until Loki had been dealt with.
"Loki's going to drag this out. So, Thor. What's his play?" Steven asked, his voice one soldier speaking to another, nothing of their past evident.
"He has an army, called the Chithauri. They are not of Asgard or of any world known. They will win him the Earth, in return for the Tesseract." Loki, another soul Thor thought lost to him, bringing down wanton destruction on a world Thor had come to love.
Simply to hurt Thor as revenge over real and imagined slights.
"So he's building another portal? That's what he needs Erik Selvig for." The one they called Hulk, a small and rather…weak looking mortal to Thor's eyes, spoke softly, pulling his glasses off his face. Thor blinked at the name. Would Loki's treachery run so far? Truly?
"He's an astrophysicist."
"He's a friend." And another lost to Loki's machinations. Mjolnir vibrated on his hip, reacting to the anger that was beginning to broil deep within him like a storm built power. Loki would have much to oay for when they returned to Asgard. Thor only hoped that he was able to contain as much of the damage as he could, before Loki went too far for even the Aesir to forgive.
"Loki has him under a spell, along with one of our own." The woman, Black Widow spoke for the first time, a quiet danger the warrior in Thor refused to ignore. She was deadly, and he knew that she wouldn't hesitate to do what she had to in order to remove her fellow from Loki's command. Thor hoped that he wouldn't have to harm her, but he would allow no one to injure his brother beyond repair. His judgment would not occur on Midgard, not when they were incapable of judging him fairly.
"What I want to know is why he let us take him so easily."
"I don't think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy is a bag of cats, you can smell the crazy on him." Banner kept a careful distance between himself and the others in the room, and despite his small appearance Thor couldn't allow a slight to his family to go unremarked.
"Have care how you speak." Thor said, his voice coming out evenly despite his urge to rage, "Loki is beyond reason, but is of Asgard. And he is my brother."
The room was quiet for a few moments, mortals looking between each other for something to say, anything to say, before the Widow gathered her nerve.
"He killed eighty people in two days."
"He's adopted." And if Loki had known that from the beginning, if he had not been left to find out during the hardest part of his life, all of this could have been avoided. Yet another failing to lay at the All Father's feet.
The conversation continued around him, the loud mortal who attempted to defeat him in his suit of Iron invading the conversation and making himself the center of attention in short order. The words he spoke were beyond Thor's understanding, but he was well versed in people who talked to disguise their actions and so he easily caught the small bit of metal the Man of Iron attached to the underside of the display he was examining.
Another clever mortal, it would not surprise him if Loki attempted to take this one next. His brother had forever been fascinated by those clever enough to match him.
"As soon as Loki took Selvig, we moved Jane Foster." Phil, the Son of Coul, leaned against the display some time later, the room clear of all but those necessary. Thor looked at the image of his lovely Jane, tracing her features with a finger. She was just as beautiful, just as alive, as she had been when he last lay eyes on her. She was everything he wanted, everything he needed in a queen. Even her mortality could be overcome, if she impressed the All Father like she impressed him.
But seeing Steven again, remembering the love that burned as hot and bright as a star for a painfully short time, brought the feelings back as if they have never dimmed with time, and pain.
Could he honestly walk away from having that, again? Coulson was making platitudes, telling him that Jane was safe (and happy) doing what she loved out of Loki's reach, but all Thor could think about was the danger Steven was in.
"Thank you." It was for the best Thor thought that Jane was not in front of him. He didn't know what he would do if he was faced with the two that held his heart, albeit different parts of it. "It is no accident, Loki taking Erik Selvig. I dread what Loki has planned for him, when he is done. Erik is a good man."
Coulson paced him as he walked away from the display, unable to continue looking at Jane's face with Steve so close to him, a half smile on his face.
"Erik talks about you often. You changed his life, you changed a lot of things around here." Thor could not take that as a compliment, knowing what he knew.
"Things were better as they were. We pretend on Asgard that we are more advanced, beyond mortal understanding, but we are not. We come here, battling like bilge snipe," Coulson gave him a confused look at the term, and Thor frowned. The Allspeak should ensure he was understood, had his mother's spell failed him?
"Bilge snipe. Huge, scaly, with large antlers. You don't have them?" Coulson's look of repulsion was answer enough, without his verbal response. "They are repulsive. And they trample everything in their path."
Much like Thor himself. He learned much during his forced exile on this planet, but he was of the opinion that it had not been the best experience for those already on Midgard. They had not been ready for Asgard, and they were paying the price now.
"When I first came to earth, Loki's rage followed me here, to your detriment. And now again. When I was a child, I courted War."
"We are not at war… yet." Fury spoke from the stairs leading to the lab that the rest had disappeared to, staring down at them like a benevolent ruler about to ask something no one would want to give. "You think you could make Loki tell where the Tesseract is?"
"I do not know. It is not just power he seeks, it is vengeance, against me. I do not know a pain that would change that need."
Fury wanted him to torture, not just his brother but a prisoner of war on his own vessel. Thor's fist clenched at his side, wanting to show Fury the error of his ways, but he was not given the chance.
"Natasha needs the both of you in the lab. Loki wants to unleash the Hulk." Without a word, Fury was turning on his heel, Thor close on his heels.
Banner was with Steve. He would allow no one to put Steve in danger if he could at all prevent it.
Not even himself.
They were not going to be enough. They would fight, and fight until none of them were left standing, but Steve knew that it was a losing battle.
"Call it Captain." Tony Stark nodded at him, trusting him to know the right calls, to get them all through this, and Steve would do what he could.
Even as he knew it wouldn't be enough, and wasn't that ironic? Surviving Red Skull, surviving seventy years in the ice, to die defending New York from aliens and a God with severe brother issues.
At least, if he died, he would see Dustin again. It was clear to him now that he would never get the answers that he needed from Loki, the god was too far gone.
"We have got to bottleneck that portal. They keep getting through and we'll never stop them. Thor, do what you can. You've got the lightening, light the bastards up." Thor flew off with a nod and a quick squeeze of his shoulder, Stark lifting Hawkeye to a perch higher up at the same time. Steve wished he had time to explain, to share his grief with Thor, but it would have to be another in a long line of regrets.
Black Widow helped him hold the line as long as he could, but there were too many and she was needed elsewhere. He lifted her up with the shield, and took a deep breath, surveying the damage around him during a lull.
The bus that they had liberated earlier stood empty near the edge of the battle, Chithauri foot soldiers advancing towards it for another round, when movement caught his eye and his breath caught in his throat.
A small boy, sandy blonde hair and bright green eyes stood in the remains of the bus, his clothes tattered and blood running down his face. He clutched a dirty teddy bear tightly in his arms, wailing at the top of his lungs for anyone to hear.
Dustin. He looked so much like Dustin should have that Steve's heart clenched and he wanted to collapse to his knees.
How they had missed him before, how he managed to stay alive in this chaos didn't matter. He had been found, and the Chithauri were headed right for him. Steve was moving before he consciously thought, eating up the ground between them with quick strides. He was not going to watch this little boy die, if there was anything he could do to stop it. Even if it meant dying himself.
He reached the boy just as blue bolts started flying towards them, huddling both of them behind the shield. The boy was crying louder, and Steve pulled him close to his chest.
"I gotcha buddy, you're ok." Unfortunately he couldn't fight and protect the child at the same time. But there was no way he could leave him there defenseless. "I gotcha."
"Steven!" Steve had never been happier to see lightening in his life, Thor abandoning the portal and landing in front of him. Bolts fried the aliens with effortless swings, fueled by more anger than he had ever seen in a sentient being.
He didn't know what brought it on, but he would take the save.
"Are you alright, Steven?" There was horror on Thor's face as he stared at the two of them, horror that Steve couldn't put a finger on. "Are both of you alright?"
Steve could only nod, hiking the boy higher on his chest.
"I will take the boy to safety and return." Thor took the boy without waiting for Steve to respond, almost prying him out of the other man's arm and clutching him tight, swinging Mjolnir in a tight circle with the other hand. "We will survive this, and when we do, we will speak Steven. You will tell me everything."
Steve watched him fly away, heart in his throat again.
He knew. By God above, he knew about Dustin.
Loki would pay for it, he would pay for everything. Growling under his breath, Steve threw himself harder into the battle ahead.
He wanted his answers, and he was going to get them